First up at Casa Cowell is Simone Battle, whose retrospective clip package reminds us of how much her arrogant ass is in need of a reality check. Beyond forgetting all her lyrics at her final Boot Camp audition, which apparently didn't do the trick. She walks up to Simon on his pool deck and, accompanied by a pianist and guitarist sitting off to the side, sings a slow version of the Beatles' "Help." Is this supposed to be her showing a vulnerable side? I'm not buying it. Hard to tell if Simon is, motionless behind his aviators. "Well done, you," he congratulates her at the end. He liked it, of course, not that anyone's giving feedback to the contestants at this stage. It takes a vocal coach and two music producers to add up to one Mariah Carey, and they squat obsequiously around Simon, trying not to offend him by disagreeing with Little Simon.
Paula and Pharrell gather the groups in the kitchen, where I'm sure one of the girls is regretting wearing that black-and-white outfit with the bowtie. Standing next to Paula's counter, she looks like a cater waiter. Paula and Pharrell try to buck everyone up while warning them that they won't all make it through. The first group to perform will be best friends The Anser, who drove twelve hours to the Seattle auditions and ended up at the back of the cattle call line at five in the morning. And left their W at a rest stop along the way somewhere, too. They're confident of winning the five million dollar prize, but they're off to a shaky start when they present themselves on Paula's backyard patio and Pharrell notices that the guy with the red glasses isn't wearing them. I guess the guest judges got to see tapes of the auditions anyway, or at least Pharrell did. Singing "Less Than Perfect" to the accompaniment of a piano and a guitar, they impress Paula and Pharrell, the latter of whom is still hung up on the kid with the glasses. Or without the glasses. Who will never be without them again.
Off to Chez Scherzinger in Malibu, starting with Dexter Haygood, the homeless guy from Memphis who needs to stop imitating Mick Jagger and James Brown onstage, like twenty years ago. Tearfully, he says this is the biggest thing in his life, after thinking he was washed up. On Nicole's pool deck, he does "Crazy in Love" with a lot more energy and enjoyment that what one might strictly call skill, dancing and throwing in plenty of Little Richard screaming. "I would have liked to have heard the song a little more," Nicole says uncertainly once he's gone. And back with Steve, Dexter's worried about having forgotten some of the words and thus missing out on the next step of the competition. So of course he collapses sobbing into Steve's arms. Steve gives Dexter as much encouragement as he can, but he's secretly like, "Why am I the only one who has to do all four categories?"